Archives for March 2011

Got Punk?

Screeching Weasel was one of my favorite punk banks growing up, and I’ve been reeling after hearing news of frontleader Ben Weasel punching audience members at SXSW–an action which led to the rest of his band quitting. The entire situation is unfortunate, and while I’d rather not rehash the details, I *am* interested in putting together some early 90s punk tunes for the next mix tape. (Get March’s tunes and February’s tunes while you’re waiting.) And that’s where I need your help. Please send me your favorite punk tunes–in the comments, by e-mail, facebook, carrier pigeon. I’ll select a choice few to include.

Yael’s Weekly Variety Hour: Food, Laughs & BJJ (What Else Is There?)

Welcome to my weekly variety hour, where I provide you with my favorite videos, articles and blog posts from the week (with bullets!), followed by some shameless self promotion. Without further ado…


Paleo Propaganda

Mandatory BJJ/MMA Posts

  • The Jiu-Jitsu Gunslingers is a fun Youtube video inspired, as they say, by the “high flying, high risk BJJ fighters of the world!”

Requisite Posts For Writers

  • Award-winning Journalism Blog Post. “Every serious candidate should have a proven track record of conceiving, reporting and writing stellar investigative pieces that provoke change. However, our ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor, had spokespeople hang up on them in anger and threatened to resign at least once because some fool wanted to screw around with their perfect lede.”

Miscellaneous Food For Thought

Shameless Self Promotion

  • I’ve been working with MedCity News, a medical industry news service, for the week. You can see my posts here if you’re interested.
  • The Beast Sled is still up and running! We hope to make a video at some point, so stay tuned.

7 Alternatives to Pandora

I was working on several writing assignments today, all on tight deadlines, and of course I listen to my favorite tunes on Pandora to pass the time away. If you haven’t used Pandora, it is pretty sweet. You plug in a song or musical artist you like, and it spits out similar songs. You can even create different channels, if you’re like me and have varied musical tastes depending on the mood. Pandora uses some top secret algorithm, trying to figure out your taste in tunes based on musical attributes such as key tonality, rhythm syncopation, vocal harmonies and instrumental proficiency.

Unfortunately, even Pandora’s free subscription runs out after 40 hours a month. Mine ran out today, and I didn’t want to pay the $.99 for three days of advertisement-supported music. Luckily, my facebook and twitter friends came up with a ton of suggestions. Here are a few of them, courtesy of Micheal, Shushu, Marshal, Jim, Angel, Angela and Fabeku.

  • Stereomood is so awesome! Type in your mood or activity and it’ll jump right to an appropriate playlist.
  • Slacker lets users create and share customized music stations. You can select from Slacker’s stations or just type in a song or title, just like in Pandora.
  • Grooveshark was another suggestion. The cool thing about this one is that it is international. It has a recommendation system, called Grooveshark Radio, which finds similar songs to your playlist and then plays them for you. And like Pandora, which allows you to give thumbs up or down as feedback, Grooveshark lets you add a happy face or sad face. You can also save songs on your playlist for future retrieval, and easily follow other users and share songs with them. Songs can also very easily be posted on facebook.
  • is similar to these other services, in that it builds a profile of your musical taste by recording details of songs you listen to. The recommender system also has a cool name–the Audioscrobbler.
  • is similar to World Net–it has a wide variety of channels to pick and choose from.
  • Musicovery is a really cute site that lets you pick out your mood or type in a musician or band you like to find similar sites.

So those are some options for when your Pandora subscription runs out! If you have any others, leave ’em in the comments.

Words Are Seeds

It really is the little things that count. Those few sentences spoken in hushed tones at just the right moment can make all the difference in the world.

As a big talker who could probably benefit from listening more sometimes, it’s easy for me to forget sometimes that what I say can have an enormous effect on others. And yet I can recall conversations from decades ago which helped me find strength–so victory was born, as they say, even in the darkest hour.

I’ve been thinking about it as I momentarily reflect on things just this week… said at the right moment were a soothing balm to my frazzled nerves. I don’t know if I’ll remember them in a week or a year or a decade–but I wouldn’t be too surprised if I pulled them out of the reserves of my memory right when I need them most.

I think Emily Dickinson said it best:

“A WORD is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.”

What seeds will you sow?

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To!

I turned 32 today! For last year’s birthday, I posted my top 31 blogs and resources of all time. This year, I wanted to try a list with a different flavor.

I’ve been noticing some disturbing trends lately, many of which I’ve considered writing about but did not feel like they deserved a post of their very own. Without further ado, here’s my list of 32 things I wish would just go away or, in some cases, should have never happened in the first place. And because I can’t whine for that long, I’ve also thrown in things I’m enjoying or really looking forward to. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to add your own at the end!

Okay, now back to whining! I’ll kick things off with 8 things that suck.

  • The Screeching Weasel fiasco. As someone who grew up listening to Boogadaboogadaboogada! ever since it first came out in CD in 1992, and always idealized Ben Weasel from afar, I was devastated to hear reports about him punching audience members at SXSW. And while I can understand the members of his band calling it quits, I just wish this had never happened in the first place. Especially since I just saw Screeching Weasel perform for the first time this past year, and didn’t even get “My Right” on video.
  • Grey eyebrow hairs. Enough said.
  • Dana White and the UFC’s takeover of Strikeforce. Competition is a good thing, but unfortunately now the UFC won’t have very much of it. And if White continues his hardline stance against female fighters, who knows where these talented athletes will go.
  • Speaking of female fighters, the whole Tate/LaRosa drama that’s been going on has been unfortunate. Why build hype for a fight that will never happen? And if it’s personal, let’s keep it off the airwaves. I’m not blaming anyone, but am just depressed by the whole thing.
  • Cramps. Are the suck. And I know all of your herbal remedies and have some of my own. But they don’t always work, and even when they do they don’t work right away.
  • NPR funding cuts. How can you not like NPR?
  • Deadbeats, of all stripes and flavors. Chasing money is no fun at all.
  • The wonderful start of spring, followed by Mother Nature dumping even more snow on a winter-weary people. Not fair.

After all that whining, I feel the need to share some of the best things about today.

  • My amazing birthday breakfast; the best Paleo fritatta of all time. (My boyfriend can cook!)
  • An immersion blender as a present!
  • Comedy Sportz. For free!
  • Team training this weekend!
  • Having a bit of time off after working so much these past few weeks.
  • Finishing up a project, and having 3 more lined up…and evenly spaced out, too! Love it when that happens.

But enough of that warm fuzziness! Now back to whining.

  • People who trivialize powerful experiences I’ve had and try to share with them, but in a subtle, concerned way.
  • Those same people asking you why you’re “being defensive” when you take issue with their questioning your judgement and treating you as if you are an idiot child.
  • Wisconsin politicians trying to effectively eradicate collective bargaining. I can’t even believe this is happening.
  • Half-off Botox listed as one of five weekly deals on a site I used to read. Gosh, prices on Botox are so high! I’d have to skimp on groceries! I can’t believe people even see  Botox as a necessity.
  • People who rip off intellectual property and written material. This is happening to a friend of mine and it’s disgusting.
  • A Minneapolis blogger fined $60,000 for telling the truth. Doesn’t seem right.
  • Mean people suck. Luckily, I  have structured my life so that I don’t have to interact with many of them, but they just seem to be everywhere sometimes.
  • Door slamming.

Here’s some things I’m looking forward to in the weeks and months to come.

  • Warmer weather (goes without saying) and nice new scenery.
  • Planting a garden. Growing vegetables and then eating them!
  • Spending time outside; maybe even blowing the dust off the Kamana booklet.
  • Tournament season!
  • A trip to Florida.
  • The World Domination Summit in Portland.
  • Doing a Whole 30. (I’ll write all about it!)
  • Riding my bicycle.

So there you have it! 16 things that annoy, and 16 things to enjoy!

Guilty Pleasures

It’s late, my internet has been working intermittently, and I’ve been so swamped with projects that I can barely keep up with them as of late. I’ve been trying to write this post for hours, which is something that never happens. Words typically flow effortlessly from my lips–or fingers, as the case may be–but instead of putting together a post that’s not well-thought-out, I thought I’d amuse you with my list of guilty pleasures. If you’re like me, you typically work hard and train hard but sometimes need a rest! I’m sure I have more, but off the top of my head, here’s the list of things I would not readily admit if I wasn’t so comfortable with you, dear readers! Without further ado…

  • Homestar Runner. I literally could spend hours on this website, lost brain cells notwithstanding.
  • Guido and Luigi. This was a hilarious comic strip that made fun of bodybuilders and wanna-be bodybuilders alike. Not really a guilty pleasure, except that it needs to be found covertly using the Wayback Machine.
  • Movie theater popcorn. So not Paleo. I know, I know.
  • Watching BJJ videos even when I’m too tired to get to class. Kind of pointless.
  • Trying to find pink wool glove/mitten hybrids, like the ones I lost. I know I’ll never find any like them, and yet I keep looking.
  • Looking through dippy magazines I’d never read seriously, just to see what they’re selling and how they’re selling it.
  • Plastic lizards. I have a whole army. It’s true!! Some stuffed animals, too, including a stuffed ketchup bottle from Pittsburgh and a stuffed dog my boyfriend won for me at the State Fair. (Go throwing arm, go!)

What are your guilty pleasures?

Yael’s Variety Hour: Fitness, Biz Skills, Poetry

Welcome to this week’s Variety Hour–my personal pick of the most inspiring, thought-provoking, interesting or sometimes funny posts from the past seven days. Putting this list o’ lovely links together has made me a bit less depressed about Mother Nature deciding to throw a hissy-fit at the END OF MARCH. Just as the snow was melting and we were getting all excited about spring, it has to snow and turn into Winter Wonderland all over again. Boo. I’m sending Mother Nature to time out. In the meantime, here’s this week’s posts.

For Fitness Enthusiasts

  • How To Bully A Barbell. On the Other end of the spectrum, Travis Schefcik describes some strategies that may help you show the bar who’s boss.
  • The Path of the Buttercup. Ever since attending a Whole9 seminar (which I’ll write all about soon), I’ve been addicted to Dallas and Melissa’s site. This is an interesting article on overtraining vs. undertraining.
  • I Haven’t Done Shit. And that can be healthy sometimes! Not a fitness article per se, but I thought it tied in nicely. (And word on the street is that Johnny B. Truant has a mean deadlift.)

Food For Thought

  • On Blogs Being Dead is some excellent analysis by Charlie Gilkey which made me think about why I will sit down for hours with a copy of Wired but merely scan headlines on many blog posts. His is worth reading all the way through.

Poetical (Yes, it is a word! I just made it up!)

  • open up any way is moving poetry from the ever-amazing Danielle LaPorte. “engage every cell in fiercely wishing: to be seen. to be graduated. adored. valued. validated. met.” Beautiful.

Shameless Self-Promotion

  • Step Up And Face The Beast! The Beast Sled is an amazing fitness tool we developed to help you take your performance to the next level! If you want to build strength, develop speed, maximize endurance–even work on active recovery–the Beast will help you step it up a notch and get results! I could go on and on, but will just let you check it out yourself.

Goldilocks: My Ideal Business Scenario

I’ve stopped applying for Seth Godin programs–the internships and weekend seminars that sound amazing and have an application to fill out with a very short turnaround. The ones I used to get all excited about and that many people would forward to me and I would drop everything to apply for, only to get a mass rejection e-mail. I will on occasion stretch myself and apply for something that seems slightly out of reach, but I’d hate my own strong and unique voice to get drowned out by the thousands of voices around me. I work hard to bypass the line, to be sought after or to circumvent the traditional maze I used to go through.

I don’t like being on the other end, either. I don’t like having to turn down work because I am so swamped, or to have to choose between equally amazing projects because I don’t have time for both. I recently sent a query to HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and was instantly submerged with phone calls, e-mails and text messages from publicists. I was saturated. I wasn’t even able to politely decline after I’d found the sources I needed, and I’m usually so good at making time to get back to everyone as a courtesy.

I used to think I’d want to be the person inundated with a zillion requests rather than one application in a pile of zillions. But now I think my ideal scenario would be resonance–to only have as many offers as I could handle, exactly when I needed them, rather than too many or too few.

What’s your ideal scenario?

Rock Bottom (Or: Sesame Street Gone Bad)

There have been two points in my life when I felt I’d hit rock bottom. Once was after college, when I was essentially homeless (though I prefer the word “traveling”) and was wandering around the country with everything I owned in my car.

It got better.

And there were glimpses of hope amidst the helplessness; like when my friend Trish knitted me a winter hat right in front of me so I’d stay warm while crashing in her boyfriend’s (all-male) dormitories before their winter break. And when I got to see the white buffalo. And when I hiked in Sedona.

It wasn’t until after I found work and a place to live for more than a week or two at a time that I really felt settled.

My second rock bottom moment was when I was living in the depths of hell (also known as Eau Claire) and attempting to make a living as a writer for the first time. Only my ONLY TOOL, a Dell laptop, took about twenty minutes to load and would intermittently crash about 50 times a day. This was annoying and frustrating and time-consuming, but I could live with it.

I didn’t hit rock bottom until several keys on the keyboard fell off and stopped working.

It was Sesame Street gone bad, sponsored by the letter E and number 3–both of which refused to work for me. I’d cut and paste my E, which worked well so long as I was in “plain text” (otherwise it would change the font). The number 3 was harder to find to cut and paste from. And the capital E? Who needed it? Couldn’t I write everything in lowercase, as a tribute to e.e. cummings?

I was explaining my computer woes to the Ittybiz ninjas at one point, and they turned me onto the novella “Gadsby,” which was written without using the letter e. I got a kick out of it.

Eventually I got a new computer; a MacBook Pro which I instantly fell in love with. (Once you go Mac, and all that!) So it gets better.

As spring emerges and the piles of snow off my driveway melt away (even though they were taller than me not too long ago!!), I am reminded of the ever-changing nature of things. Talk of silver linings and the darkest hour being right before dawn can be frustrating to hear when mired in miserable circumstances, but I have found that change really is the only constant! So if you’ll forgive the torrent of clichés (“This, too, shall pass”), I wish you brightness and favorable winds of change with the dawning of this new season… and that you’ll be able to look back and laugh at all your current problems in the not-too-distant future.

Are You A Very Important Person?

While listening to NPR on Wednesday, I heard an interview with journalist and author David Brooks. One thing that he said which stuck in my mind was that 12% of high school seniors said they were very important people 40 years ago, but more recently, it was 80%. He also said that the U.S. is 37th in the world in math, but #1 at thinking we’re really good at math. This is all based on Jean Twenge‘s research.

All this reminded me of an excellent post by Derek Sivers, I Assume I’m Below Average. He makes a good point. An inordinately large percentage of students, professors, cancer patients, motorists, etc. believe they are doing better than average. Sivers said that assuming he was below average allows him to ask more questions, listen more and stay in a beginner frame of mind.

I’m not there yet, but I will say that I know I’m socially below average. I often don’t pick up on social cues that other people do. I’ll find out many things to fill in the blanks that helps me make sense of things I don’t pick up on at the moment. I’ll talk with friends and they’ll ask me about my day and, after I’ve told them, pause and tell me about their day. Often I realize after the fact that I missed my cue, in which I was supposed to ask them about their day (or opinion, or whatnot). Being aware of this, I suppose, reminds me to take extra measures to pay attention to what’s going on around me.

I’m also directionally challenged, and can probably list a few other areas in which I feel I am below average. I can see certain instances in which this frame of mind could be useful, but I also wonder whether fixating on this ever stops you from expanding beyond your limitations (real or imagined).

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.